Sunday, 14 February 2016

Schlenkerla 1963

The title says it all:

Random Dutch beers (part eighteen)

This is going to take a while. There must be a couple of dozen new Dutch beers sitting on my floor waiting for me to drink them. I'm sure you're glad to hear that.

First today is another from Tongval, a non-brewery owning outfit. But they do state on the label where the brewing took place: 'y Hofbrouwerijke in Belgium. It's another one I picked up in Deen just before Christmas, when they had beer scattered all over the shop.

Tongval Dubbele Tongval 7% ABV
Dark brown and pretty fizzy. Some foam was starting to poke its head out of the bottle before I had chance to pour it. It has a rather unpromising dusty aroma, like a neglected corner of a bedroom. In the mouth it has an odd chicory bitterness. Is it me, or do half of the beers I try have some sort of fermentation fault? I don't think it is me. Maybe I'm just too fussy. Just about on the drinkable side of unpleasant. Just about.

This next bunch don't have a brewery, either. Though they are based just around the corner from here. It's owned by the people who run a couple of pubs on the banks of the mighty Schinkel. According To RateBeer, this was brewed at Brouwerij Anders! in Belgium. (Nice use of an exclamation mark in the name.)

Two Chefs Brewing Green Bullet 5.7% ABV
It's juicly citrus in the aroma, as you'd expect a modern IPA to be. Passion fruit in the mouth with a tobacco-like bitterness lurking around like a kinderlokker at a playground. In short, a perfectly serviceable IPA. Not really much more I can say about it. I'd be happy to drink it regularly. Except Ij IPA has a slight edge. And is cheaper.

Getting that Tongval label off was such a spiky, pointy thing in the thing I mostly use for sitting on*.

* arse

Saturday, 13 February 2016

English IPA

This all kicked off when I was writing a 1957 Whitbread IPA recipe recently. When I was plugging the details into BeerSmith, I chose as style English IPA. Makes sense. It's an IPA brewed in England.

It didn't fit with the specs of the style at all. Way too low in gravity. Looking more closely at the supposed characteristics of the style, I realised that virtually no IPA brewed in the UK in the 20th century matched the numbers. The gravity range given is 1050-1075º. While I'm pretty sure that almost no British IPA brewed between 1820 and 1980 was over 1070º.

I realised that the definition of English IPA wasn't based on anything as silly as IPA's brewed in the UK. But what American home brewers think and English IPA should be like. So similar to an American IPA, but not as hoppy. Or with English rather than US hops. I love the utter cheek of this statement in the 2008 BJCP style guidelines:

"The term “IPA” is loosely applied in commercial English beers today, and has been (incorrectly) used in beers below 4% ABV."
Right. So American home brewers get to decide what a British brewery can and cannot call IPA. The idea that there's some universal definition of IPA that means it can't be applied to a beer of under 4% ABV. While low gravity IPA has a long history. A much longer one than the modern American style. Yet for some reason that doesn't count.

The idea of IPA having wildly different strengths doesn't seem to have phased British drinkers. As I realised when I searched the newspaper archive for "Whitbread IPA". And came across this gem of an advert:

Why is it so revealing? Because it lists two very different kinds of IPA. You just need to look at the prices.

First you've got Whitbread IPA, selling for 2s 6d for a dozen pints, or 2.5d per pint. Further down the list are Worthington and Bass IPA, selling for the same price for half pints. Meaning they were double the price of Whitbread IPA.

If you look at the beers themsleves, the reason for the price difference is obvious: Bass and Worthington were much stronger.

Bass, Whitbread and Guinness 1898 - 1912
Year Brewer Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation
1898 Bass Pale Ale IPA 1064.9 1015.6 6.43 76.02%
1901 Bass Dog's Head IPA 1065.6 1003.3 8.06 94.59%
1901 Bass White Label IPA 1063.8 1007.4 7.25 87.73%
1912 Whitbread IPA IPA 1048.8 1011.0 4.99 77.44%
1912 Whitbread LS Stout 1055.7 1013.0 5.65 76.65%
1901 Guinness Foreign Extra Stout Stout 1075.7 1013.3 8.18 82.42%
1901 Guinness Extra Foreign Stout Stout 1075.0 1013.2 7.86 81.34%
Brockhaus' konversations-lexikon, Band 2 by F.A. Brockhaus, 1898
Wahl & Henius, pages 823-830
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/01/077 and LMA/4453/D/09/106.

Clearly drinkers weren't confused by being offered IPAs of very different strengths. Whitbread IPA is about as weak as beer got before WW I, when average gravity was 1055º. Today a beer in the same strength class would have an OG of around 1035º.

Note also the price premium for Pale Ale: despite being the same price as the Stout, the gravity was lower. Though the Jacob's Pilsener was even more overpriced, costing the same as a Burton Pale Ale, when its gravity would have been much lower.

If early 20th-century drinkers could get their heads around low-gravity IPA, what's the problem today?

Friday, 12 February 2016

Cornbrook Brewery and tank beer

Cornbrook  was a Manchester brewery bought by United Breweries, the successor to Hammonds, in 1961. It was a mid-sized brewery like many others. But one thing made it special: replacing cask with tank beer.

DCM was David Constable Maxwell, managing director of Cornbrook,

“Under DCM's tutelage, Cornbrook had pioneered their system of handling draught beer through delivery by motor tanker wagon into bulk containers in the outlets and dispensing it by measuring pumps on the counters. It was popularly called tank beer, and had its origins in a system used by Hull Brewery company in that city from the 1920s. It had been updated in the light of modern scientific application and was manufactured by a Lancashire company Porter Lancastrian, with which DCM was connected, although, unusually for him, he did not reveal this until actually asked. As stated, bitter beer was taken from the brewery by tanker and filled into metal tanks in the cellars of public houses and kept under carbon dioxide pressure, and thence through a measuring pump into the customers' glasses. The principle was good, in that all responsibility for quality was removed from the licensee, as was the necessity to ensure the scrupulous cleanliness of all utensils in the retail outlet exposed to the atmosphere.”
"The Brewing Industry 1950 - 1990", by Anthony Avis, 1997, page 75.

The Hull Brewery used large ceramic jars to store beer in pub cellars. There was a bit of a controversy back in the 1970’s whether their beer counted as cask or not. It was rough filtered and the ceramic vessels it was served from weren’t pressurised, unlike Cornbrook’s metal tanks. I seem to remember CAMRA accepting it nationally, but the Hull branch not putting any pubs in the Good Beer Guide that sold it.

Just checked the 1978 and 1980 Good Beer Guides. Hull counted as cask in 1978, but not in 1980, when the GBG notes that all their beer was filtered. Obviously CAMRA had a change of heart.

Obviously, for the free trade Hull didn’t use tanks. The Town Hall Tavern in Leeds used to sell their Bitter, presumably from a cask, but filtered. I don’t recall it standing out in either a good or a bad way.

The move to tank beer was prompted by a recurring theme in the 20th century: publicans messing up the beer in the pub cellar. Keg and tank beer were seen as a way of taking a landlord’s incompetence out of the equation. Foolproof beer was the aim. Of course, it never quite worked out like that. 

The enthusiasm of some management for tank beer saw United Breweries rather rashly rush into adopting it more widely in the group.

“DCM sang the praises of the system extravagantly, as did his general manager, Joe Barlow, when Cornbrook came into the UB group. Lightning and carefully controlled tours of the brewery and as carefully controlled inspections of selected pubs, were arranged to make its virtues known more widely to other executive managers in UB. Since the system was new, it had not been tested on a large scale - of time, dimension or its tolerance of draught beers brewed differently to that of Cornbrook. Apart from the assertions of the system's success by the Cornbrook directorate, independent actual and factual statistical evidence was hard to come by; it was therefore difficult for an objective assessment of its merits to be made. However, WTD [William Tudor Davies] who had advanced his career from being the outside management consultant from Urwick Orr & Partners to being the managing director of Hammonds, and then the sales director of UB, was convinced the system should be adopted, despite doubts within the company that it still had to be proved. The compromise was to have a field trial of the system on a grand scale, in that all the group's outlets in the Bradford area were converted to the "tank beer" system.

WTD was convinced it was a significant breakthrough in brewing technology and product service to the customer.”
"The Brewing Industry 1950 - 1990", by Anthony Avis, 1997, page 76.

No-one really understood the technology that well. But went ahead anyway. You can probably guess what happened. But I’m saving that for next time. I will leave you with a couple of Cornbrook beers:

Cornbrook Brewery beers 1927 - 1961
Year Beer Style Price size package OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1927 Flagon Ale Mild pint bottled 1028.2
1927 Barley Stout Stout pint bottled 1049.3
1959 Barley Stout Stout 12.5d half bottled 1046.3 1013.8 4.21 70.19% 250
1961 Keg Mild Mild 16d to 17d pint draught 1035 1002.3 4.09 93.43% 20
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001.
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.

Note that the Keg Mild is pale in colour.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Random Dutch beers (part seventeen)

It's early Saturday afternoon. The kids are still in bed. Dolores is fiddling with something in the kitchen. And I'm a bit bored. I know - let's do some more beer reviews sketches.

Dolores has picked me up some more beers from Deen, one of our local supermarkets. They've suddenly started selling beer from small breweries in Noord Holland, where the chain is based.

I'm really getting out of touch. This is from a brewpub in Zaandam.Which is just over the water from Amsterdam. Had no idea there waas a brewpub there.

Brouwerij Breugem Saense Bock 7.4% ABV (€1.50 for 33cl on special offer, usual price

Just about broewn enough for a Bok. Pretty sludgy - like hot chocolate. But not hot, obviously. Smells pleasantly malty like a straightforward, old-fashioned Dutch Bok. Though I note that they spell the word the German way with a "C". Quite sweet, but nothing wrong with that. But there is something wrong with the cabbage-water finish. Not so nice. With an unpleasant edge of non-hop bitterness. Mister Sink will be having a drink.

Speaking of Deen, the next one was brewed specially for them by Jopen.

Cornelis Donker 8.5% ABV (€1.50 for 33cl on special offer, usual price €2)
It' a lovely deep coppery red, with a decent enough head. Smells like caramel and US hops. Quite an odd combinarion. It's sparkling clear which has me wondering if it's been pasteurised.Mmm. Not sure what to make of that. It's got quite a spicy character, with a background of toffee-like malt. Then there's a scrap of cirtus hanging around embarrassed in the background. According to the label, in contains oats as well as barley malt. Could I spot them? No. Then gain, I'm crap at that sort of thing. I find it strangely perfumy. Tastes like Christmas. Nothing wrong with it, but not really to my taste. Mister Sink will have to stay thirsty.

There you go. Another post from nothing other than the beer I'm currently drinking. Piece of piss.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Let's Brew Wednesday – 1957 Whitbread IPA

English IPA. There has been so much total and utter bollocks spoken about the style. Most definitions seem to be what Americans think English IPA should be like. Not based on something as dull as beers actually brewed in the UK.

It’s always good fun picking a style in BeerSmith. As this is an IPA brewed in England, I plumped for English IPA. 1050º to 1075º it tells me is the gravity range. Where the fuck did they get that from? I’m pretty certain that between 1820 and 1990 there wasn’t a single IPA breed in the UK with an OG over 1070º. The classic IPA gravity in the 19th century was 1065º. After WW I, Bass and Worthington excepted, there wasn’t an IPA with a gravity over 1055º. Just thought I’d make that clear.

In the 20th century, one of the commonest types of IPA was like Whitbread’s. A low-gravity, very pale, quite hoppy, bottled beer. Other London brewers had similar beers. Barclay Perkins, for example. It’s pretty much died out, though Harveys still make one.

It’s another painfully simple Whitbread recipe. Pale malt, crystal malt and invert sugar. Where could you go wrong with that? This is one of the very few beers where the colour calculated in BeerSmith pretty much matches the one in the brewing record. Meaning the colour wasn’t adjusted with caramel. Or with only a very little.

The hops were a mix of Mid Kent and East Kent, which I’ve interpreted as Fuggles and Goldings. It’s another beer with a relatively short boil. Which was pretty standard at Whitbread after WW II.

I can’t think of anything else to say. Other than, here’s the recipe:

1957 Whitbread IPA
PA malt 6.50 lb 83.87%
crystal malt 40L 0.50 lb 6.45%
no. 1 sugar 0.75 lb 9.68%
Fuggles 75 min 0.75 oz
Goldings 40 min 1.00 oz
Goldings 20 min 1.00 oz
OG 1035.8
FG 1006.5
ABV 3.88
Apparent attenuation 81.84%
IBU 36
Mash at 147º F
Sparge at 168º F
Boil time 75 minutes
pitching temp 64º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread ale

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Bottled beer in the 1950’s – Bright Bottled Beers (part seven)

As promised, we’ll be looking at carbonation. Though obviously, as a lifelong CAMRA member, I consider artificial carbonation to be the work of the devil.

You’ll note that the beer still hasn’t quite finished with its time in a tank. Once it was done with the warm tank, it went to the cold tank.

“On its way to the cold conditioning tank the beer is usually chilled by a counter-current chiller which reduces the temperature to 33-34º. This may consist either of a series of concentric pipes; through the inner one flows the beer and through the annular space between the inner and outer tube cooled brine is passed in the reverse direction; or of a machine similar in construction to an enclosed wort refrigerator. The beer passes on one side of the grooved plates and the cooled brine through the other. This plant, like its counterpart the wort refrigerator, gives very efficient heat transfer; it is easily adaptable for changed loads, as further plates can usually be fitted if an increased output is required; and it is easy to dismantle and clean. Alternatively in some installations the beer is blown without chilling into the cold tank, where it slowly attains the temperature of the cold room. In some breweries where it is desired to prime the bottled beers for sweetness only the practice is to put no priming in the conditioning tanks, but to inject it into the beer as it passes through the chiller into the cold storage.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, pages 338 - 339.

I’ve already explained a little about wort refrigerators. They were an important development in the late 19th century, allowing wort to be cooled much more quickly. Especially in summer, when during warm weather cooling in an open cooler could take many hours, during which time the wort was vulnerable to infection.

I guess leaving it to cool down in the tank used less energy, but took longer.

Now the exciting act of carbonation itself:

“It is at this stage that carbonation takes place. The carbonation may be effected as the beer passes from chiller to cold tank or by carbon dioxide top pressure in the cold tank. In this case assimilation of the gas is slow unless some form of rousing is installed. Finings, if used, would be added to cold tank before running in the beer. A rouser is sometimes installed to assist in mixing-in the finings, but usually the motion of the beer as it enters will give adequate mixing. Without rousing, absorption of carbon dioxide may take two or three days, whereas with efficient mixing it may be complete in about an hour. There is one system which uses the same tank for conditioning and cold storage (sometimes these periods are referred to as warm and cold conditioning respectively) and the tank has a propeller for rousing, so that absorption of the gas in the second (cold) stage is accelerated. When, as is more usual, separate cold tanks are used they are not generally fitted with mixing devices. ”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 339.

It’s striking to me that at this point the beer still hasn’t been filtered and could be fined at the same time as it was being carbonated. Filtering only occurred later in the process. But we’ll be getting to that later.

I would have thought that swirling the beer about with a rouser would have knocked CO2 out of solution rather than help it be absorbed. But what do I know?

Carbonation has changed a little over the years. It does still sometimes take place as the beer is being chilled:

"This addition of carbon dioxide can occur whilst chilling beer through a plate heat exchanger  and so can take advantage of the turbulence of the beer in creating good conditions for gaseous exchange. A purpose-designed carbonation unit can also be used. This consists of a long pipe usually in the form of U-tube bends through which the beer flows. Carbon dioxide is injected as fine bubbles and the uptake, even in this form, can take a considerable time. The carbon dioxide must be the purest form available and no oxygen must be introduced. The injection unit must be easy to clean and must be cleaned regularly. Carbon dioxide can also be added `in-vessel' but this is frequently less efficient and more difficult to control. A `carbonation stone' is sometimes used to ensure production of fine bubbles of carbon dioxide to aid dissolution in the beer. This technique is sometimes described as `gas washing' and provides an opportunity for the removal of oxygen and unwanted flavour volatiles as well as carbonation. After `washing' the vessel must be sealed to allow pressure build-up and the dissolution of carbon dioxide. There are a number of problems associated with externally added carbon dioxide and it is good practice to avoid this technique as far as possible."
"Brewing Science and Practice" by Dennis E. Briggs, Chris A. Boulton, Peter A. Brookes and Roger Stevens, 2000, page 564.

But note that “externally added carbon dioxide”, i.e. CO2 added by top pressure in the tank, is no longer recommended.

Finally this is how much gas to add:

“Carbonation is usually effected so as to give a carbon dioxide contact after bottling of about two volumes of the gas per volume of beer or 0.4% by weight of carbon dioxide. To allow for inevitable losses during bottling it is advisable to carbonate to the extent of 0.5% by weight, which requires a pressure of 2.6 lb. per square inch at 33° F.; 3.3 lb. at 34º F. and 4 lb. at 35º F.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 339.

The pressure needs to be higher if the beer is warmer because CO2 is more soluble at lower temperatures.

Next it’s how to store your chilled beer.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Newark Ales in 1906

I'm returning briefly to my Newark-on-Trent theme. Why? Because I can and I feel like it.

Really it's just because I bumped my nose into a Warwick & Richardson's advert from 1906. Warwick & Richardson was one of the two big breweries in Newark still operating when my family moved to the town in the early 1960's. It was bought by John Smiths in 1962 and closed in 1966. After which their pubs were supplied with beer from the Barnsley Brewery. Most of the brewery still stands on North Gate. It's an attractive late Victorian job, so I'm glad they didn't just bulldoze it.

I remember the Cock Inn in Balderton going from Warwicks to Barnsley to Courage livery. Then changing its name to Chesters. Does at last sell cask now, which it didn't when I lived in Baldo. Still wonder what Warwicks beer tasted like. My dad must have drunk it, as I know my mother did (Milkmaid Stout). And she only usually drank in pubs. Other than Chrismas and weddings.

Here's the price list:

Lincolnshire Chronicle - Tuesday 25 December 1906, page 1.

As you can see, they had a range of 16 draught beers, which is pretty impressive.. Though my guess is that there were only really three or four parti-gyles. The bottled beers look like versions of the draught beers:

Trent Stout = P
Double Srout = SS
Extra Stout = DS
Mild Ale = XXX
Trent Ale = LBB

How does the range compare with that of breweries elsewhere? Let's take a look, shall we?

First, the Warwick's beers in table form:

Warwick & Richardson beers in 1906
Beer Style price per barrel (shillings) price per gallon (pence)
X Mild Ale 36 12
XX Mild Ale 42 14
XXX Mild Ale 48 16
XXXX Mild Ale 54 18
LBB Pale Ale 36 12
TA Pale Ale 42 14
BB Pale Ale 48 16
IPA IPA 54 18
A Strong Ale 60 20
B Strong Ale 72 24
P Porter 36 12
SS Stout 42 14
DS Stout 48 16
Lincolnshire Chronicle - Tuesday 25 December 1906, page 1.

Now Whitbread's:

Whitbread beers in 1906
Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation hops lb/brl
X Mild 1055.1 1013.0 5.57 76.42% 1.23
FA Pale Ale 1049.6 1013.0 4.84 73.78% 2.61
IPA IPA 1050.1 1013.0 4.91 74.04% 2.63
2PA Pale Ale 1056.5 1017.0 5.23 69.92% 2.37
PA Pale Ale 1063.4 1022.0 5.47 65.29% 3.40
KK Stock Ale 1075.1 1028.0 6.23 62.73% 4.06
2KKK Stock Ale 1080.2 1033.0 6.24 58.83% 4.33
KKK Stock Ale 1085.8 1032.0 7.11 62.69% 4.63
P Porter 1055.2 1013.0 5.58 76.43% 1.55
CS Stout 1057.9 1017.0 5.41 70.65% 1.38
S Stout 1074.5 1026.0 6.41 65.08% 2.09
SS Stout 1085.2 1032.0 7.03 62.43% 3.84
SSS Stout 1095.1 1038.0 7.56 60.05% 4.29
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/01/071 and LMA/4453/D/09/100.

The biggest difference is in the Mild Ales. Whitbread brewed just one, while Warwick's had a more typical Victorian range of X to XXXX. Whitbread's X Ale, incidentally, sold for 36 shillings a barrel, just like Warwick's. But based on what I've seen at other provincial breweries, the gravity of Warwick's was probably lower.

Both breweries made four Pale Ales. But note the different position of IPA in the Pale Ale hierarchy. At Whitbread it was one of the weakest, at Warwick's the strongest.  As I've said often before, IPA wasn't necessarily stronger than Pale Ale. It varied, depending on the brewery. Ironically, Warwick's IPA ended up being their standard Bitter. I can recall filling the odd keg of it during my time at Holes, though by then only two pubs in Newark still sold it.

The surprising thing about the Black Beers, is that Warwicks still had a draught Porter. It was pretty moribund outside Ireland and London. As the maps here show. Based on the price, Warwick's top Stout was nowhere near as strong as SSS. DS was probably around 1070º

I can't think of owt of any sense about the Strong Ales. Keeping my gob shut as tight as Mum after all those rum punches in the former governor's mansion in Kingston.

I wish I had some real numbers for Warwicks beers. Before I started my crazy crawl through records, I never dreamt so much was out there. Maybe, somewhere, there is more information about their beers. I can still dream.

My favourite ever dream? Being on a Newark pub crawl in 1940. And not waking before I got to taste the Mild.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Guinness’s Park Royal Brewery in 1949 – the brew house (part four)

Don’t worry. Our slow crawl through the brew house will soon be over. Of course, that’s far from the end of our visit to Park Royal.

Nearly as important as the coppers themselves were the hop back, where the hops ended up after boiling.

“There are two hop backs each of 800 barrels capacity of more or less orthodox design in that they are circular vessels of about 26 ft. 6 in. in diameter and 9 ft. deep, constructed in copper bearing steel to resist corrosion and the usual gun-metal false bottom plates, the slots being 19 s.w.g. i.e. 0.040 in. The hop backs have copper domes with a chimney taken up through the roof for disposing of the vapour to outside the brew house. Disposal of the hop-back vapour in this way appreciably reduces the maintenance of the building steel work, etc. Perhaps an interesting feature is that the hop backs are fitted with revolving rakes for putting out the spent hops. A small dip of weak worts is put into the vessel, the rakes revolved to mix thoroughly the content, and then the hop outlet is opened to a centrifugal "free flow" pump which pumps the spent hops over to the by-products department for draining and drying. The same pumping system is used for returning hops to copper for alternate boilings. The hopped wort from the hop backs is pumped up to the wort coolers which are large open vessels about 26 ft. X 24 ft. and 6 ft. deep, constructed in copper bearing mild steel and located on the top floor of the brewhouse. They are open to the atmosphere.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, pages 282 - 283.

Some revealing stuff there. For a start, they hop sparged. That’s what the bit about “a small dip of weak worts”. That means they were adding a low-gravity wort to extract the wort retained by the hops. This was presumably higher gravity than the wort used to flush it out. More surprising was the fact that they returned hops to the copper, i.e. they were reusing spent hops. Very odd at this late date.

Note that they were still using open coolers, despite having refrigerators for cooling wort. Coolers (not fucking coolships) remained in use because, in addition to cooling wort, they were useful in removing all sorts of gunk from the wort. Being very shallow, sediment dropped out more quickly. As was usual, they were located at the top of the brewery, where the flow of air was best.

Not that coolers cooled the wort that, er, cool:

“The wort lies here where atmospheric cooling is allowed to lower the temperature to 176° F., which ensures that the temperature, when running down, does not fall below a safe figure. The wort is discharged into the wort coolers over aeration hoods.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 283.

Aeration hoods? Surely you wouldn’t want to aerate the wort at this point? Would you? I guess by wort coolers they mean refrigerators, whose form and function I described earlier.

Not sure what’s next. Something.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

The 1952 barley crop (part two)

As promised, a report on the price of barley in various bits of the UK in early 1953.  I had a strange feeling writing that. What was it despair? Resignation? Defiance? Probably a bit of all three. I’m realistic enough to realise that there aren’t millions of readers waiting for this.

We start in Scotland:

“In Scotland at that period moderate supplies were on offer. Barley for distilling changed hands at 110s. to 112s 6d per qr., while brewing types moved slowly at 125s. to 130s. per qr. at farm.  As the month advanced the malting barley trade throughout the country was quiet with prices in the main unchanged at former levels, interest was centred more on barley for other purposes than brewing at up to 110s per qr. ex farm; but little was to be had of the feeding sorts at the maximum of 104s. per qr. at farm. There were isolated enquiries for spring seed lots at 130s. to 150s. per qr. ex farm.”
"Brewer's Guardian 1953", 1953, February page 13.

Scotland was an important producer of barley. For a few reasons. Partly connected with climate. Barley, being fairly tough, is more suited to the Scottish climate that some other grains, such as wheat. Then there was the demand. In addition to being used as animal feed, barley was also needed by the brewing and distilling industries. At the time, Scotland’s brewing industry was much more significant than it is today, with Edinburgh being one of the main brewing centres in the UK.

I’m not surprised that the barley destined for distilling was cheaper than that for brewing. They didn’t need such high-quality barley because of the process. I was shocked to discover how rough and ready the fermentation of the wash is in a whisky distillery. Unlike in a brewery, where you could never produce a top-class beer lie a good Pale Ale from crap barley.

The best malt was reserved for brewing:

“Prime qualities are scarcer and the bulk on offer is not up to maltsters' standard. The basis of the small business done was from 120s. to 135s. while up to 145s. was paid for barley of really exceptional merit. For other than malting grain there was a steady  trade at 110s. to 115s. per 4 cwt. Ex farm.”
"Brewer's Guardian 1953", 1953, February page 13.

Now for England:

“Towards the end of January interest hardened considerably. No improvement was evident in the amount of choice malting lots, but parcels of feeding quality were taken up quickly. For medium quality malting grades there was a slightly better demand in the Eastern Counties but other centres reported a slow trade. Barleys on offer at Mark Lane were mostly unattractive. The pick of malting lots made up to 155s. per qr. but for lower grades 120s. was usually the best price. ”
"Brewer's Guardian 1953", 1953, February page 13.

By Eastern counties I assume they mean East Anglia, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. The main barley growing region in the UK and also one containing many maltsters. The next paragraph confirms that – most of the towns named are in the East of England:

“In Bedford, malting barley fetched up to 135s. per qr. Trade in Colchester and Norwich was steady at former prices; but demand improved in Horncastle, Diss, Lincoln, Devizes, Salisbury and Sudbury, where little really high quality barley was obtainable. Information from Edinburgh was that ample supplies were available, and brewing qualities sold fairly well at the wide margin of 115s. pet qr. up to 130s. ex farm. There were brisk sales of distilling sorts at 110s.— 112s. per qr. ex farm. ”
"Brewer's Guardian 1953", 1953, February page 13.

I must see if I can track down any information of barley production by region. I’m trying to recall some maps I saw when visiting Crisp’s malting last year. Parts of the Southwest grew large amounts of barley, too.

I’ll finish with a table of barley prices:

Barley price 1939 - 1960
Year ended Dec. 31. Average price per quarter (400 lbs.)
s d
1939 31 7
1940 64 11
1941 85 9
1942 163 1
1943 112 2
1944 94 4
1945 87 2
1946 86 7
1947 85 9
1948 95 10
1949 92 3
1950 99 8
1951 138 8
1952 116 4
1953 107 5
1954 91 12
1955 92 10
1956 91 8
1957 82 9
1958 81 10
1959 80 8
1960 75 11
1971 Brewers' Almanack, page 61.

You can see that after a peak in 1951, barley prices had started to fall again. But remained far above their 1939 level. The high price in 1942 was doubtless in response to the high demand for barley from various sources during the war. In addition to its use as fodder and in brewing and distilling, barley was also employed in the national loaf, the only type of bread available.

Next we’ll be looking at barley in Ireland, both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Guinness’s Park Royal Brewery in 1949 – the brew house (part three)

We’re gradually making our way through the Park Royal brew house, and have now reached the coppers.

“There are four wort coppers each with a holding capacity of 650 barrels. They are designed for pressure boiling at about 1.5 Ib. p.s.i.g., giving a wort boiling temperature of about 216° F. The coppers are steam heated, being fitted with a six-wing vertical tubular heater having a heating surface of 176 sq. ft. and a five-loop heating coil with a surface of 160 sq. ft. arranged at the bottom of the copper. Steam is supplied at a pressure of 100 p.s.i.g., being reduced steam from the high-pressure steam lines. Each copper heater unit is capable of heating up a full copper in 1.5 hours, and is capable of boiling off a maximum of 30 barrels per hour. Steam consumption is of the order of 9,000 lb. of steam per hour on the maximum duty. The copper is fitted with the usual pressure control and vacuum breaking and striking-off valves.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 282.

You can see that the capacity of the coppers was matched to that of the mash tuns. If you were aiming at getting 600 barrels in the fermenters, 650 barrels seems the right amount to put in the copper, allowing for the boil off of some liquid. A standard boil was around 1.5 hours after WW II, which means around 45 barrels would evaporate during the process. Again fitting in neatly with my numbers.

Fuel economy during the war led to a redesign of the copper:

“Originally the copper domes were bare copper in accordance with general brewery practice, but during the war the domes were lagged with 2.5-in. magnesia with a saving in fuel of approximately 150 tons of coal per annum.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 282.

In a way, breweries should have been pleased with the drive to save fuel during wartime. Because it led to permanent cost savings. As with lagging the coppers. I assume by magnesia they mean the same plastic magnesia that was used to insulate the mash tuns.

The coppers were one of the differences between Park Royal and St. James’s Gate:

“At the time Park Royal was being designed, the coppers in the Dublin brewery were coal fired with the exception of one which had been fitted with a steam heater for experimental purposes. From the brewers' point of view, brewer colleagues appear to be quite satisfied with the result of steam heating—at least they have not yet asked for the steam heaters to be taken out in order to revert to coal or oil firing.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 282.

I wonder if they eventually fitted all steam heaters to all of the coppers in Dublin?

And what did they do with the steam coming off the coppers?

“The vapour from boiling off is led through a lagged vapour main to jet condensers, specially designed for the purpose, and the cooling water is normally that returning from the wort refrigerators at a temperature of 130° F., which is just below the critical temperature for the deposition of the temporary salts. If, however, boiling off is taking place at a time when the wort refrigerators are not in use, direct cold water is used. In either case, the supply can be regulated automatically to give the condensate a temperature of 205° F., or the condensate re-circulated over the condenser to raise its temperature. The condensate is run down to the brewhouse low receivers for use in the brewhouse liquor system. Each copper has its unit condenser, which can deal with the maximum rate of reduction of 30 barrels per hour. The jet condenser is a simple and less costly plant than the more usual surface condenser, but it can only be used where a use can be made for the mixture of cooling water and condensed steam, i.e. distilled water. A brewery, of course, can make good use of such a supply of hot water.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 282.

In this sense, a refrigerator is a specific piece of equipment used for cooling wort. The classic device has a series of copper pipes through which water flows. The wort flows over the top of these pipes. The water returning from the device would have been heated by the wort if was cooling. So obviously they didn’t need cold water for this purpose.

This is another area where Guinness saved money through energy-saving measures:

“The factors determining design are quantity and temperature of the cooling water available; the quantity and temperature of the steam or vapour to be condensed and the temperature of the condensate required, the latter being variable depending upon the amount of cooling water used or available. Conserving the heat of the copper reduction vapour in the way adopted saves approximately 750 tons of coal per annum.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 282.

Hop backs next.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Random Dutch beers (part sixteen)

By popular demand*, I'm revisiting beer reviews. Sorry, beer sketches. I don't do reviews.

Starting with a new beer from Amsterdam's oldest brewery:

't Ij Ciel Bleu Imperial Stout 10.2% ABV
Tastes like it has a couple of After Eight mints dissolved in it. In a good way. Rich and thick, like the children of a millionaire. Just my sort of beer, though they could have made it a bit stronger. Love the label.

As a small aside, don't be too trusting of the claimed ABV of a beer. Unless it's from a big industrial mob. When it will be just within the maximum tolerance. Downwards, obviously. For smaller breweries, well, think about how it works in the US with label approval. It takes time. If the beer is a one off, you might need to submit the label before

This next one isn't really a Dutch beer. The company marketing it may well be Dutch, but the beer itself was brewed at ’t Hofbrouwerijke of Beerzel in Belgium. To give them their due, this is clearly indicated on the label.

Tongval Lichte Tongval 5.4% ABV
It's a hazy greenish-yellow in colour. I did try to pour it carefully. Honestly. Diseased urine is what springs to mind. The aroma is coriander and minty hops. Quite appetising, really. As is the flavour. It slips down quite nicely and has enough bitterness hanging around on the back end to spawn revenge porn. It's supposedly a Saison. I guess it sort of is. Then again, Saison has always seemed a rather vague concept to me.

"Do you want to try my beer, Andrew."


"Is that a maybe?"


"Do you want to try my beer, Dolores." As I reach out to pass it to her, she recoils in horror, nostrils flaring.

"I'll take that as a no."

A miserable bunch, my family.

"Can I have some bacon, mama?"

"I've only Dutch bacon."

"I suppose that will do."

"Andrew, did you know that there's a magical place in town where they'll give you English bacon in exchange for your Dutch euros?"

"Our Dutch euros, you mean, Ronald"

Did I mention what a lazy git Andrew is?

* I think one person may have said they like these posts. Or maybe that was just a dream. I often struggle to remember whether something really happened or whether I dreamt it.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Let's Brew Wednesday – 1955 Whitbread XXX

I thought I’d continue with another 1950’s Whitbread recipe. A really fun one – XXX, the strong Mild they introduced in the 1950’s and pushed a fair bit, based on the newspaper ads I’ve seen.

Though strong is a relative term in this case. Most wouldn’t consider an ABV of just over 3% “strong”. The context is Best Ale, their standard Mild, which was just 2.75% ABV. Though OG was the only difference between the two, as Best Ale and XXX were parti-gyled together.

I fear it’s going to be a very short spiel again. As you must have noticed, Whitbread didn’t exactly go in for complicated recipes. No adjuncts, just malt and sugar. In this case they’ve gone crazy and thrown in some crystal malt in addition to the mild ale malt base.

Whitbread consistently used mild ale malt as the base for their Milds and Forest Brown, while their Pale Ales used PA malt. Mild ale malt was around 10% cheaper than PA malt. There were four different types of pale malt back then: PA malt, SA malt, MA malt and plain old pale malt. MA malt was generally made from slightly lower quality barley and was kilned a bit darker than PA malt. As for SA malt – who knows? I’ve never been able to find any details about its manufacture or composition.

Hay’s M is in the grist again and, once more, I’ve substituted more No. 3 Invert. The hops being all Mid Kent, I’ve stuck my neck out and gone for Fuggles. Note the short boil on this one. The first copper was really only boiled for 60 minutes. Whitbread dropped down to 1 hour boils for some beers in 1942, presumably to save fuel and probably at the order of the government.

Oh, you’ll need to add caramel to get the right colour.

Reckon that’s me done, just the recipe left . . . .

1955 Whitbread XXX
mild malt 5.75 lb 79.31%
crystal malt 80L 0.50 lb 6.90%
no. 3 sugar 1.00 lb 13.79%
Fuggles 60 min 0.75 oz
Fuggles 40 min 0.50 oz
Fuggles 20 min 0.50 oz
OG 1034.8
FG 1010
ABV 3.28
Apparent attenuation 71.26%
IBU 22
SRM 30
Mash at 147º F
Sparge at 168º F
Boil time 60 minutes
pitching temp 65º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread ale

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Bottled beer in the 1950’s – Bright Bottled Beers (part six)

Contrary to my expectations, it seems that there is at least one fan of crap like this. That’s all the encouragement I need.

Once conditioning in the tank was complete, it was vital to keep air away from the beer. For several reasons:

“It should be emphasized that from this time onwards it is essential to protect the beer from absorption of oxygen. At the end of the conditioning period the action of the yeast will have reduced the rH to a low value of about 10. During subsequent handling and bottling there will inevitably be some rise in this value to perhaps 16-17. This high rH is of importance from the point of view of both biological and non-biological haze. Yeasts, notably wild yeast species, can grow at this rH; at rH15 their growth is slow and at below about 12 their growth will be completely inhibited. Oxidation of proteins is a frequent cause of haze in bottled beer and from this point of view also the lower the rH the less chance of haze. While danger of biological haze can be removed by pasteurization this process may accelerate the onset of non-biological haze, so that from all points of view the importance of the minimum contact with air cannot be over emphasized. In judging the susceptibility of a beer to these troubles which follow upon its absorption of oxygen the rH alone is not a complete guide. Of equal or perhaps greater importance is the actual amount of oxidation which has taken place as indicated by the 'poising' of the beer towards influences which can change its rH. As a parallel to this we may point out the difference in response to traces of acid and alkali of a non-buffered solution as compared with a buffered solution. As pointed out in Chapter 3 a single drop of a decinormal acid may suffice to swing the pH of a non-buffered liquid, such as distilled water or a solution of sodium chloride, through several units, say from pH 7.0 to pH 4.0; whereas the same amount of acid added to a buffer solution would have hardly any perceptible effect.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 337.

I’m not going to lie to you. I understood bugger all of that. Other than that contact with air was likely to cause haze at a later stage. And that was the last thing a brewer wanted. The whole point of the conditioning process was to create a beer totally free of haze or sediment. Unlike your modern hipster brewer, who’s trying to get as much shit as possible into the finished beer, so it looks “natural”.

I’m starting to wish I’d done A level chemistry. I really don’t get that stuff about buffered and non-buffered solutions and decinormal acid. It’s left me feeling a bit thick.

“In a similar way we have to distinguish between a beer which while having a high rH may have little poising action and one which has been oxidized sufficiently to resist subsequent agents which might reduce its rH to a safe value. If a beer has only been in contact with air for a comparatively short time its rH may have risen, but its 'poising’ effect may be small. In such a case the slightest growth of yeast may be sufficient to reduce its rH to a low value, so that the growth of the organism is rapidly inhibited before it has developed sufficiently to cause appreciable trouble. If, on the other hand, the beer had been exposed to air for a long time the consequent production of oxidized products would have supplied a reservoir of combined oxygen, which would prevent the rH falling and allow considerable growth of the organisms. Somewhat similar conclusions apply to the formation of non-biological haze. The actual amount of oxidation haze will depend upon the reserves of oxidized materials in the beer. From this point of view darker beers are less susceptible to the action of oxygen. Due to the presence of the substances called melanoidins to which reference has been made in an earlier chapter, such beers have a reserve of reductants which can minimise the raising of rH of the beer by contact with air or can counteract its influence.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, pages 337 - 338.

In case you’d forgotten, we’re talking about conditioned beer being kept in cold storage tanks. About all I got from that is that darker beers are less susceptible to haze caused by oxidation. I’d never heard of that property of melanoidins before. Would beers coloured purely by sugar have melanoidins, or are they only derived from dark malts? A fair enough question, given many dark beers of the period contained nothing darker than crystal malt, and sometimes not even that.

This is probably the post I’ve least understood in the history of my blog. It does get a little better:

“It is from this point of view that the Indicator Time Test is useful. It measures the reserve of oxidation or reduction products in the beer. It depends upon the slow reduction of an indicator, the speed of the reduction being a measure of the reserve of reductants in the beer. An I.T.T. result of as little as 100 seconds can be given by a beer which has been handled in such a way as to minimize contact with air, whereas a beer which has been allowed to be in prolonged contact with air may take more than 1,000 seconds in the test. This brings us to the question of the use of air for blowing beer into the cold tank. Unless the brewery is collecting its own carbon dioxide the use of this gas for blowing the beer from one tank to another is uneconomic, and providing the beer is blown through carefully and is not allowed to be in contact with the air for too long the amount of air absorbed is usually insufficient to make a serious alteration in the beer. It is an advantage however for the empty tank to be filled with carbon dioxide before filling with beer. In some bottling stores the arrangement of compressors is such that C02 used for transferring the beer or for filling the tank can be returned to a storage vessel and thus used repeatedly, precaution being taken to avoid introducing air into it.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, pages 337 - 338.

Collecting CO2 would have been tricky for most British breweries as they almost all had open fermenters at this point. So my guess is that not many did. Meaning many probably did use air to move beer about. It’s another area where the UK lagged behind the rest of the world. American brewers had been using CO2 this way since the late 19th century. While German breweries had to collect CO2 if they wanted to carbonate because the Reinheitsgebot only allowed to use CO2 produced during fermentation.

Talking of which, carbonating the beer is next.